If you’re a fan of tropical plants or at least thinking about growing them in your home then the Bromeliad may be an option for you to consider. It’s a plant that is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and it’s one of the more popular houseplants among those who enjoy exotics. Bromeliads come in a variety of sizes and types and they make lovely additions to any indoor plant garden, and they’re grown outdoors in the tropics and sub tropics. Here is everything that you need to know about growing Bromeliads wherever you live.
What is a Bromeliad?
Bromeliads are plants that are in the monocot family of flowering plants. There are 3,475 identified species in the world so far with 51 known genera. They grow wild from the tropical regions of West Africa to tropical and subtropical parts of the Americas. They belong to the Bromeliacaea; JUss family in the plantae kingdom with the higher classification Poales. This wonderful plant family is so highly valued by gardeners because of the diversity of sizes, colors and foliage. They are also adaptable to a variety of different climates. The diversity in foliage ranges from thin as a needle to flat and broad leaves with textures that range from soft to spiky. The leaf colors are a big drawing card with colors that include green shades, gold and maroon, with variations of cream, white, yellow and red. You can also find varieties that have unique patterns with colors and hues that range from creams to reds and purples. They offer an exotic aesthetic for any indoor or outdoor plant collection and some varieties such as the botecies Tilladsia cyanea have a pleasant clove like scent.
How to propagate Bromeliad
You can purchase Bromeliads from nurseries and other retailers who sell exotic and specialty plants, but once you have one, it will only live for so long. If you’re interested in propagating bromeliads on your own, it’s actually not that hard to do. One of the best things about these plants is that you can continue the line from one healthy plant. After bromeliads flower (although the blooms are usually tiny), they produce more smaller plants which are referred to as pups. In temperate climates they will spread on their own, and if you’re growing them in pots indoors, you’ll also have new babies, but there are a few things you need to do in order to propagate new plants. When you see the pups growing near the parent plant that may or may not have already died, allow them to grow to a size of about 6 inches in height before removing. When you’re sure that the pups have formed a solid root system, it’s time to prepare a new pot or area in your garden for transplanting. You may need to use a knife that is clean and sharp to cut it away from the parent plant, but make sure that the root system is still intact. After it’s separated from the larger plant, pull the pup and its roots up and away from the old plant and place in prepared soil. If placing in a new pot, the recommended mix of potting soil is 1/2 nutritious potting soil with 1/2 ratio of orchid bark. The area should be well drained. The bark creates a growing environment that is similar to the locations where they grow in the wild, which is usually in trees. Don’t be alarmed if your new pup doesn’t bloom for the next three years and in some cases it can take up to six, but you’ll have lovely foliage to enjoy in the meantime. One of the things that exotic plant enthusiasts love about the bromeliad is that it is so easy to propagate on your own.
Care of your Bromeliad
There are a few important facts that you need to know about the necessary care and maintenance of bromeliads. The first thing is the location. If you’re in a region that supports growing them outdoors, find a place that has excellent soil drainage, that gets a fair amount of bright light, but also gives the plants a break from direct hot sunshine. Choose a spot that is sheltered by other plants so there is filtered sunlight for the optimum environment as they love bright light but cannot tolerate prolonged periods of direct exposure. If you’re growing them indoors then choose a location in the home where there is bright sunlight available that is indirect. An ideal place is near a window that gets a lot of light.
Be particular about the watering
The best way to water them is monthly. Indoor plants do best with a pot that has excellent drainage from the bottom. The plants have a natural cup in the center and this is the ideal area to water. Keep the cup 1/2 full of water but you should make sure to flush it monthly to make sure that no harmful bacteria develops. Distilled water is the best option, but if your water source is relatively poor, it will probably do well enough with water fro the tap. These plants should not be over-fertilized and there are are quite a few growers who don’t give them any fertilizer at all.These plants can tolerate temperatures that dip as low as the 40s, but they do best when the temperatures are in the 80s to low 90s. They thrive on high humidity. It’s best if you’re growing them indoors to set the pot in a saucer that is filled with gravel along with water because this will help to increase the humidity levels to the ideal growing environment for your bromeliad.
Common problems with Bromeliad
While bromeliads are relatively easy to grow, there are some problems that can arise and as long as you keep an eye out for signs of plant distress, most problems that arise with these plants are easy to remedy. By knowing the signs of distress and what to do about them, you can grow beautiful and healthy bromeliads without a lot of fuss. The most common problems with these plants are old age, insects and diseases, although they’re relatively hardy.
Brown color on leaves or flowers in the center and wilting
It’s important to understand that browning of the flower that has been in bloom for a while is normal. The blooms die, and eventually, the plant will die of old age too. It’s after the flower blooms that the plant dies. Some varieties only bloom once during their life cycle. Some of these plants can live for years and others, only a few months so it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about the specific variety that you’re growing. If the natural aging process produces brown leaves near the center then you can use a sharp knife to cut the unattractive portions of the plant while you’re harvesting the pups for propagation. Other possible causes for this are over-watering and over-fertilizing.
The most common type of insects that afflict the bromelaid plant is an aphid. If you notice these small green pests on your plant, it is easy enough to kill them by spraying a solution of mild detergent with warm water, but keep the amount of detergent very low in the mixture. If the infestation is particularly bad in an outdoor garden, you may want to consider using a mile pesticide to kill the aphids because they an lead to significant damage if allowed to infect bromeliads or any other type of plant for that matter.
Brown/dying leaves at the bottom
When leaves turn brown near the bottom of the plant it can be an indication that your bromelaid is experiencing root rot. The plant does not absorb water through the roots as they mostly serve as an anchor. Water is absorbed through the cup. If you roots are kept too moist, your plant can develop root rot and this is why it’s vital that the plant is placed n a well drained area. Root rot comes from the plant sitting in too much moisture and it can eventually kill the plant. If there is a rotting smell to the plant, it could have heart rot. The only way to save a plant in this condition is to treat it with fungicide if it hasn’t gone too far already. Any pups around the mother plant should be removed to a different pot or place in the garden to avoid contamination. you can also try re-potting the bromelaid parent plant into a container that is filled with dry potting soil.
Different types of Bromeliads
Did you know that the pineapple you buy from the store to cut up for a fruit salad is a bromeliad? This is just one of the types of bromeliads that exist in the world today. As we stated earlier, there are nearly 3,500 different species which are known in the world today. This is one of the things that makes the plant family so diverse and in such high demand. We’ll go over a few of the many species which are the most popular. The variances in size, color and appearance give you a wide range of options. You can choose the best varieties for growing indoors or outdoors, depending on the climate in the region you live in.
- Aechmea is a type is one of the most popular and widely grown in the family. They are often grown indoors as they adapt well to nearly any home temperature.
- The Ananas cosmosus is the pineapple which grows wild and is also cultivated as an agricultural crop in tropical climates. These plants make excellent hedges.
- The billbergia is a fast growing variety that grows straight upwards with few leaves, but the spikes are attractive.
- The catopsis variety is most commonly seen growing in South America, the West Indies and in the state of Florida with soft green leaves and no spines.
- The Cryptanthus is one of the most colorful with foliage exhibiting pink, red, brown, bronze and green colored leaves.
- The Guzmania is one of the most showy of all the varieties growing in large clumps with yellowish to white blooms, reaching a size of two to three feet in width.
- The portea genus offers six different species and these plants grow to be quite large and need a lot of room in the garden or large containers when grown as indoor plants.
Bromeliads are among the most beautiful exotic plants in the world. Although there are nearly 3,500 different known varieties throughout the world, most are relatively easy to care for. The majority of these plants are valued for their lovely foliage instead of the blooms that they produce. They are adaptable to a variety of climates, but thrive the best in environments that are tropical, subtropical and humid with plenty of indirect sun light. As long as you water them in the recommended manner and plant them in well drained soil, avoiding the urge to water from the roots up, these plants tend to be among the hardiest in the exotics category. There are quite literally thousands of species to choose from so you can find bromeliads which are small enough to fit in a window sill or large in size growing up to 30 feet with all imaginable sizes in between. The shapes of the foliage and colors also vary greatly, as do the patterns on the leaves and the types of blooms that they produce. All of these varieties are easy to propagate so you can keep the line going for decades from a single plant. They’re fun to mix and match when you want to have a variety garden that is low maintenance.